It was a privilege to speak to TES Blogger of the Year 2016, Natalie Scott, this week.
Natalie is a teacher, a senior leaders, currently working as a Specialist Leader of Education and has volunteered in the ‘Calais Jungle’ camp.
What did your time at the sharp end of school leadership teach you?
Natalie learned that although she is a perfectionist, that doesn’t work for all teachers or students. When she went into a school which was requiring improvement, she relied on processes and procedures when it may have been better to be ‘softer’ and get to know staff better in the first place. It was a mistake in retrospect to have been ‘The Ice Queen’.
Natalie was also a leader in a school where (she started blogging) which was part of a huge academy chain and was very Ofsted-driven, with a lot of staff feeling fear. She found out that if you are asking staff to do something you are not prepared to do yourself or doesn’t directly impact on the children, then it’s not worth doing. She realised her values didn’t align in that school so she needed to leave.
What made you go to the ‘Calais Jungle’ and teach?
Working 7am to 7pm in school eventually caused Natalie to burn out. She felt that she was restricted as a classroom teacher and was having to give out messages as a leader which she didn’t believe in. She decided she didn’t want to teach again.
Then Natalie received a call from the headteacher she had worked for in the Isle of Wight. He and another teacher were preparing to travel to Calais after hearing that the was no educational provision at all in the camp. There was a school but it was being run by people with no experience of teaching. He told Natalie to ‘stop sulking’ and join them in Calais.
Natalie describes ‘The Jungle’ as a lot like a shanty town and praises the ingenuity and imagination of the people who live there. There are restaurants, shower facilities, a make-shift Church, a library and a theatre. Despite this, the people are living in poverty. Natalie found it mind-blowing. She taught teenagers as there weren’t many younger children there.
Shortly after this, she moved to Dunkirk where there was another illegal camp. The main population here was middle class families, mainly Kurds. They didn’t want to put their children into the intimidating atmosphere of Calais. This camp, however, was a field of mud and raw sewerage, full of children and educated parents who didn’t want to be in the Calais environment. There were no toilet facilities at the Dunkirk camp at all. The doctors, lawyers and teachers who lived there had fled their homes and now had nothing.
As Natalie points out, she realised that her teacher problems in the UK were nothing compared with the problems of these people just over the Channel.
With no equipment, no facilities, what does great teaching come down to?
Questioning was the most important skill…
Read the rest of the show notes on the pivotal Education site
Support the charity Natalie worked with either individually or with your school:
TES Blogger of the Year!
Tweets of the Week
— Keziah Featherstone (@BLC_Head34) 20 September 2016
This is why I love my job 💓 pic.twitter.com/KP7ehW9oXk
— Mrs Woolley RSDP (@MrsWoolleyRSDP) 20 September 2016
Tweet to @PivotalPaul or email Paul@pivotaleducation.com if you are a Headteacher and he will send you what you need to take part in the #HotChocFri project. Join in with the positive reinforcement for one or two of your learners who have gone over and above each week.
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Read the full show notes on the Pivotal Education site
(Creative Commons Sound clip by Johnny Pixel Productions, Inc. – http://www.johnny-pixel.com/ http://www.freesound.org/people/jppi_Stu/)